Sport

Muhammad Ali gala kicks off Olympic party season 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | 4:44 PM    

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LONDON, England (AP) — Muhammad Ali was the star of a London charity gala today that set off the Olympic party season — though with a gentle jog rather than an A-list burst out of the blocks.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie failed to put in a much-anticipated appearance on the red carpet at the Sports for Peace fundraiser, where attendance started at £2,500 (US$3,900) a head.

Sports figures including Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, tennis star Boris Becker and boxer Wladimir Klitschko, along with British celebs such as rocker Bob Geldof attended the party and dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum in honour of the 70-year-old boxing great.

Ali was the guest of honour at the event, which was raising money for the educational Muhammad Ali Centre and for research into Parkinson’s disease.

His brother, Rahman Ali, said the former world champion might play a role in the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday, as British newspapers have reported.

“There’s a possibility,” he said. “He makes decisions at the last minute.”

Ali won gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics when he was known as Cassius Clay.

Geldof, the famously grouchy Irish musician and charity campaigner behind Live Aid, said Ali was the rare athlete who had made a difference in the world.

“Muhammad Ali was intensely political, and changed the whole agenda,” Geldof said. “He did it with the same bravery he did in the ring.”

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